I listen to a lot of books. History is a favorite. Very often the narrative is as follows: “Captain Henderson built a stately mansion on the hillside overlooking the harbor. It cost him $17,000 — which is the equivalent to $22 million in today’s money.”

Things are always changing, improving and costing more. Even “I listen to a lot of books” is a phrase that I have not been able to utter for too many years, yet all who read this most likely understand what I mean.

I got my first real paycheck about 40 years ago. I was a dishwasher at a very popular but now defunct restaurant. Since I lived rent-free at the old homestead, I immediately went out and blew the whole thing on a stereo system. I went to a very popular and now defunct stereo store and shelled out close to $400 for a state-of-the-art system. (Multiply that by 10 for today’s dollars.)

The stereo, along with my long shelves of records, were my most valued possessions and central to the feng shui of my living spaces for the next 20 years.

LP records begat eight-track tapes and then cassettes and then CDs. Each advent of new technology required an additional layout of investment cash at increasingly inflated costs.
Eventually, it became a whole lot easier to listen to music on the computer. The stereo components got old, took up a lot of space and occasionally needed expensive repair — which became harder and harder to find and afford.

I can remember moving the whole thing down to the basement and finally, I shudder to contemplate, to the dump.

I have noticed that music doesn’t sound the same. Sure, I am going progressively deaf as the years go by, but a lot of music is being listened to on phones and tablets and it lacks the depth and range of my old Garrard turntable through my big Advent speakers.

Luck would have it, I found my exact tuner from history at a tag sale and recently hooked it up in the office. I rigged it so I could send my tunes through the air from my computer into a new device that goes through the “AUX” input and plays through the ancient speakers that just happened to be in the garage.

It sounds pretty good, but not good enough. I think I have to hard-wire the whole thing. I am trying to listen to music as often as I can — needless to say, none of it recorded since 1974.

I will continue to tweak the system until I achieve the sound I remember. Adjusted, of course, for today’s ears. My books will sound great then!

Turn that racket down! [email protected]